Thinking of voting in the European Parliamentary elections? Here’s our essential eight-point guide.
1. Hertfordshire is represented by the East of England constituency, which elects seven MEPs every five years.
2. MEPs win their seats via the party-list proportional representation system. This means each political party fields seven candidates, who are ranked first to seventh, and seat are allocated on a proportional basis. In the ballot box, you’ll simply vote for a party and depending on the percentage of the vote the party receives, it takes one or more of the seven seats - between 10 and 15 percent is one seat and the party’s first candidate would go to Brussels, 25 percent is two seats and that party’s first and second candidates would go to Brussels. The process continues until all seven seats are filled.
3. Currently, we are represented by three Conservatives, two UKIP, one Liberal Democrat and one Labour MEP. Once elected MEPs form political groups - rather than national groups.
4. This election, candidates are standing for the Conservative Party, Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party (UKIP), No2EU, English Democrats, Christian Peoples Alliance, An Independence from Europe and British National Party.
5. MEPs receive a basic yearly salary of €84,000 (£68,014.54) and are expected to attend four-day meetings in Strasbourg every month (not August) and two-day meetings in Brussels six times a year, where the Parliament's committees, political groups and other organs also mainly meet.
6. MEPs have few or no powers over health, education, housing, law & order or defence, but significant powers over environmental standards, consumer protection, trade, employment law.
7. Amongst other things MEPs: have to approve nearly all EU legislation, table parliamentary questions for Question Time or written answer, approve international agreements (such as trade agreements) and accession of new member states to the union, jointly with the Council of the European Union agree the EU’s annual budget.
8. Since the last election in 2009, the European Parliament has brought in a price cap on mobile roaming charges, worked on new financial regulations for banks - including capping bonuses, implemented farming reform by bringing in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies, brought in reform to save fish stocks by giving more powers back to fishing regions and backing down on quotas and written a number of anti tobacco laws.